Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sudan University protests spread across country

Sudan, once the largest country in Africa, is now one of the medium sized countries.

For over a week, university students across Sudan have been protesting against the Sudanese government's announcement that the University of Khartoum, the prestigious university located in the Sudanese capital, would be moved from Central Khartoum where the university has been for over 102 years to the outskirts of Khartoum. The relocation has been stated as necessary to make way for tourist attractions at the university's current location. This has angered many students and professors who took to the streets to protest over the relocation. The protest have transformed into long standing grievances and anger at the Sudanese government. Simmering protests are justified.

The people have had enough abuse

Port Sudan residents remember January 2005 Massacre and discuss their rights


It is well known that the Sudanese government has long oppressed and neglected ordinary Sudanese.  Students from Beja ethnic group were massacred by Sudanese police in January 2005 in Port Sudan in Eastern Sudan. The Beja students had been peacefully protesting demanding that Khartoum government allocate resources to marginalized Eastern Sudan where many Sudanese belonging to the Beja people and non Arab ethnicities live. Darfur, Blue Nile, Abyei and Kordafan and the Nubians in Northern Sudan in the cities of Karima and Dongola have also protested against the government policy that ignore local people in the name of development. Meroe Dam project that the Sudanese government is currently boasting as bringing much needed electricity to a large chunk of Sudan, threatened to permanently destroy Ancient Nubia and its monuments and drown Nubian history and culture in Northern Sudan in Karima near the ancient Kush and Nubian imperial cities of Meroe and Dongola by Nubians in Sudan and Sudanese Americans. Yes, Sudanese citizens did join the larger 2011 Arab Spring across North Africa and Middle East. However, Sudan's revolution fizzled out as the national police cracked down on protesters.

 Sudanese journalists protest crack down and detainment of press and media journalists

Increased crackdown on journalists, independent media in Khartoum and across the country and detaining people for criticizing the government began decades before Omar Bashir came to power in a coup in 1989. A large chuck of GDP on military defence and destructive wars on innocent civilians in Darfur, Nuba Mountains (not to be confused with Nubia) and Blue Nile, allowing arrest and detention of students from all the regions of Sudan and using terrorism as an excuse to detain Sudanese journalists, students and critics of the government. Sudanese currency has lost its value over the years as result of terrible economic policies and weak performance. Again, the lack of equal representation and power sharing among the diverse ethnic groups (Khartoum being dominated by Arab elite since before Sudan's independence). It is Northern Sudanese identity crisis not religion that is at the root of government policies, the wars and marginalization of other Sudanese regions outside Khartoum. The students' anger go way beyond Omar Bashir. In spite of arrests by the notorious National Intelligent Security Services, students protests have erupted in University of Kordofan in El Obeid following the death of a student (students are being blame for violence that broke out at the University of Kordofan) and other marginalized regions of Red Sea state where the port city of Port Sudan is located.

Students protest at University of Khartoum, Sudan's oldest university

 The U of K students are known across the country for standing up for their dignity, human rights and citizens rights.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Prince 1958-2016 In Honor of the Purple Reign

For the past two days, the multi talented, genuine artist known as Prince (And formerly known as Prince) has shocked the world with his passing. Few musicians' death of stun not only the whole of United States but the wider world. Born in Minnesota 1958, Prince born Prince Rogers Nelson, was both a music genius and deeply private and genuine guy. He first made his d├ębut in the music world in the late 1970s. His first hit was Erotic City followed by a string of hits in the 1980s. Oh Shelia, When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, Kiss, Let's Go Crazy and the list goes on. Prince was known for both his mysterious and yet tasteful blend of sexiness and unique fashion. Beside playing the electronic guitar that is and now was his signature instrument in most of his music, he also wrote music for many artists such as Chaka Khan (I feel for you), (Manic Monday) the Bangles, Shelia (one of his many muses) and inspired many other musicians. In-spite of  the fame, Prince remained a humble person. Especially in today's world of the instant celebrity, where ordinary people, musicians and singers will not think twice to do the most insane stunts or share every second of their lives with the world (no matter if the people or mainstream media are interested or not) on every piece of social media. Prince didn't chase down scandals or put himself into the middle of unwanted controversy. As a matter of fact, he wasn't much for the red carpet spotlight. Even when being interviewed, he kept a calm demeanour and remain a quiet guy even among close friends. He was known for inviting people into his home and giving private concerts. He also worked on humanitarian projects outside of his music career. He refused to let the music industry and media define him or his music into a single box. He leaves the world with praise and respect from everyone who shared his life, love and music. Prince is the rare musician that is loved by both ordinary people and the media. There is no hard feelings toward the singer nor is his image any less classy. He was mysterious yes. But he was also regular guy who took time to share his world with everyone. The doves are crying and the purple rain is coming down. To the Prince in royal purple, enjoy your final journey. Rest in Power Prince.

Prince performs his signature Purple Rain during a downpour at Superbowl 2007 Miami, FL

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Earthquake in Japan and Ecuador Mother Nature's Cruelty

Japan's place in the world. The island nation is literally off the East coast of mainland Asia. It's closest neighbours are South and North Korea, China and Russia. The Philippines is to Japan's immediate South. To the far east is Hawaii, North and South America. Japan is most famous for its technology, car manufacturing and futuristic cities not to mention giving birth to the bullet train (been in use since the 1960s). Of course anime and manga which has been a popular export of Japanese society since 1960s alongside technology, cars and culture.

The Ring of Fire the seismic meeting place of the Pacific Ocean where all the world's most violent and unpredictable volcanoes and tectonic plates meet, have devastated Japan with rare back to back mega earthquakes in less than a week. The first earthquake hit in Japan on Thursday, April 14th. It led to hundreds of thousands of evacuation of men, elderly, women and children. The second earthquake a 7.3 magnitude hit the city of Kumamoto in the Kyushu Island in Southern Japan on Saturday, April 15th. Earthquakes and tsunamis have a long history across the Pacific Region. Many people are dazed and afraid to return to their homes and businesses fearing another unexpected earthquake or tsunami might rear itself up again. Throughout the decades and centuries, Japanese people have been bracing themselves for the magnitude and scale of destruction. However, mega earthquakes are cruelly unpredictable and come randomly with limited time for evacuations. So far, some 40 people have been declared dead by the double earthquake while 120,000 people have been made homeless. There is good news. An 8 month old baby girl was pulled from the rubble following Friday's earthquake. The last mega earthquake other than the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear diaster and tsunami was the infamous 1995 Kobe earthquake. It's usually the rolling aftershocks that can be more fatal and devastating than the actual earthquake. The residents of Kumamoto and the wider Kyushu region are also facing rising health problems as result of the pollutants and contamination exposed by the earthquake.

Terromoto en Ecaudor Abril 15, 2016

Across the Pacific in Ecuador, a 7.8 magnitude of an earthquake most likely an aftershock of Southern Japan's double quake, hit the calm and peaceful country of Ecuador. It destroyed buildings and lives in the Esmeraldas region, home to the large Afro Ecuadoran population (Afroecuatorianos) and their unique culture. The death tolls stands at 272 people. The epic centre was in Ecuador's north western coast in the town of Manta. Ordinary Ecuadorian are pleading with the government and other citizens for help and aid to rescue both trapped and survivors under the rubble. South America seems to share the aftershocks of any major earthquakes in Japan. Ecuador's last major earthquake was in 1949 during the Ambato Earthquake. It is regarded as the worst earthquake in the Western Hemisphere. 


Sismo terremoto 7,8 en Ecuador RT Noticias Espanol (RT News)

PS: Natural disasters have a unique way of bringing the world closer together even putting politics aside to allow conflicting nations to help one another for citizens' well being. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Ivory Coast Beach terror attack in Grand Basam, 16 victims

Ivory Coast, located on the West Coast of Africa. It is sandwiched between Liberia and Ghana as well as Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso.

On March 13, a group of 5 gunmen from a branch of the Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb attacked and killed 16 people on the beach at the hotel Etoile du Sud in the Southern Ivorian town of Grand Bassam located some 25 miles from Abidjan, the former Ivorian capital. The majority of injured and killed were locals and other nationalities. The attack appeared to be a copycat of the 2015 Sousse, Tunisia beach attack. Ivory Coast is NOT used to terrorism if any kind. It is rare to experience or imagine an Al Qaeda like attack or ISIS inspired bombing happening anywhere in the Ivory Coast. The same goes for most West African countries including Mali. Until a few years ago. It is both a shock and trauma that AQIM would even attack a small town like Grand Bassam on the Ivorian coast. Ordinary Ivorians are certainly shocked. So are European and other African tourists in Grand Bassam and visiting other parts of Ivory Coast. The town is known mostly for its colonial buildings and laid back atmosphere. It is often overshadowed by Abidjan. The attack has put the country on high alert. The hotel was unfortunately targeted due to the fact that it is used by Westerners and other international expats. AQIM is hellbent on removing Western influences and businesses from across North and Western Africa. It doesn't matter if innocent people are in the way. Boko Haram in Nigeria and other smaller takfiri groups have used ISIS and Al Qaeda tactics to fight against their home governments and attack the same civilians they are claiming to represent. The latest attack in Ivory Coast has turned Africans further away from these groups.

Ivorian soldiers comforting a child and tourist in the aftermath of the Grand Bassam terror attacks.

Ivory Coast is one of the larger countries in West Africa. It borders Liberia to its West, Ghana to its East. Burkina Faso is to the North and the Atlantic Ocean is to the country's South. Historically, Ivory Coast has been a relatively peaceful country. It is most well known as the homeland of Ivorian international footballer Didier Drogba as well as Yahya Toure and other players. Ivory Coast is home to one of the largest churches in Africa, the St Peter Bascilia in Yamoussoukro. For many decades, Abidjan, the former capital of Ivory Coast and the current business city was seen as a model city for other African capitals to follow. Lagos in neighbouring Nigeria could swallow Abidjan several times over. In addition to speaking French, Ivorians also speak. The country is considered a sister republic to Liberia. Both countries keep good relations between one another.

Ivorian youth helped by tourist to medical team following terror attack.

It was only in 2002, that Ivory Coast had its first serious civil war that putted pro-government supporters against opposition. Western media framed the war as a clash between Muslim North and Christian South. The framing wasn't necessarily true. The war had far more to do with politics than religion as most conflicts that happen are centred around political grievances and marginalization as well as wealth/corruption. The French government sent troops to rescue French citizens in 2004 during the height of the war. Once the war ended in 2005, Ivory Coast settled into peace.  Elections in 2012 between Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo, again sparked brief violence between each presidential candidates respective supporters. After the brief war sparked fears of a civil war, Ouattara was selected as president while Laurent Gbagbo was sent to the international Criminal court in The Hague for war crimes along with his wife. Despite the recent events, Ivory Coast has been relatively calm.